Being a professional hockey goaltender is a cutthroat lifestyle.
Unlike being a forward (where there are usually 12 to 15 job openings per team) or a defenseman (usually six to eight spots), the number of goalie jobs available per club is two — maybe three, in some unusual circumstances.
It’s not enough to simply be good — to have to be near the top of your class, better than the others who are gunning for those few precious roster spots.
That’s the world that Dallas Stars goaltending prospect Philippe Desrosiers is finding himself in right now.
Desrosiers has always been a good goalie. He was a high QMJHL draft pick as a young teen. He backstopped Canada to a gold medal at the 2013 IIHF U18s, a performance that played a large role in the Stars selecting him in the second round, 54th overall, in that year’s draft. He also helped lead Rimouski to a league title in 2015, and that year he was also named the CHL Goaltender of the Year.
But since then? It has been a case of “good” not quite translating over into “good enough.”
Despite his high draft status and junior success, Desrosiers, now 23, has had trouble establishing himself in the pros. He’s in his fourth professional season right now, but has spent all four of those seasons bouncing back and forth between the AHL and the ECHL, with most of his games coming in the latter.
The competition within the Stars organization is stiff. Beyond Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin in the NHL, Landow Bow is ahead of Desrosiers on the depth chart, while Jake Oettinger and Colton Point, both 20 years old, look like the team’s goaltenders of the future.
Making matters tougher, Desrosiers is a pending restricted free agent at the end of the year, meaning that he’ll need a new contract. The Stars will retain his rights, but could decide to not tender a qualifying offer and let him go as a free agent.
Before whatever happens this summer, however, Desrosiers is getting the chance right now to prove just what he is capable of. With Bow currently up in Dallas backing up Khudobin while Bishop rehabs an injury, Desrosiers has assumed the starting duties for the Texas Stars.
He had a nice statement performance on Friday against the Tucson Roadrunners, stopping all 29 shots that he faced to earn his second-career AHL shutout.
“I thought Phil was outstanding,” Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal said about Desrosiers after the game, as reported by 100 Degree Hockey. “I thought he made some timely saves for us, especially down the stretch there. I thought his rebound control was outstanding, and he’s played the last three or four games and played very well for us. Given us a chance every night.”
Posting a shutout for a team chasing a playoff spot is the type of performance that gets noticed — not just by the Stars’ brass, but by other organizations who might be looking for goaltending help.
Whether his future lies in the Lone Star State or elsewhere, Desrosiers is making a strong case for himself through his current opportunity that he deserves one of those scarce pro goaltending jobs, and that he’s not just good — he’s good enough.
Texas currently finds themselves in quite a tight race for the AHL playoffs after some struggles lately, but they did manage to pull a 2-1 record out of last week, defeating the Rockford IceHogs 3-2 on Tuesday before their 2-0 win over Tucson on Friday and a 4-1 loss to those same Roadrunners on Saturday.
Making things harder on the team is the fact that Joel L’Esperance is currently up in Dallas. He scored his AHL-leading 27th goal of the season on Tuesday before his recall.
Making things easier, however, is the fact that Denis Gurianov was sent back down in exchange. He was buzzing in his first two games back with Texas, pumping 10 shots on net and garnering one assist.
North American Juniors
Speaking of Oettinger, he celebrated a nice milestone in an impressive way over the weekend, recording a shutout in his 100th NCAA game.
The shutout was the 11th of Oettinger’s career with BU, putting the junior just two away from reaching the program record. With a flawless performance in his 100th game, Saturday was a special night for the Minnesota native.
“It’s crazy that it’s already been 100 games,” Oettinger said. “It feels like I was playing my first one yesterday. It’s definitely a cool milestone and nice to get a win in the 100th game.”
Curtis Douglas set a new career best on Friday, producing the first four-point game of his OHL career with two goals and two helpers.
HIGHLIGHTS presented by @TecumsehMall: @CurtisDouglas39 (2G, 2A) led the offensive attack as the Spits completed a home-and-home sweep of the Sting in Sarnia with a 7-4 win on Friday night. pic.twitter.com/cniJpcfigv— Windsor Spitfires (@SpitsHockey) February 16, 2019
Another week, another bunch of points to add to the pile for Jason Robertson, with four in three games played. He also extended his ongoing point-scoring streak to 15 games.
Tye Felhaber also had four points in three games, helping him hold his lead in the OHL’s scoring race. He’s at 98 points through 58 contests.
Jermaine Loewen has found a bit of consistency on the score sheet recently, as he is currently riding a four-game point streak. He picked up one tally and four apples this past week.
Albin Eriksson is becoming something of a one-on-one goal-scoring specialist. When Skelleftea earned a penalty shot opportunity recently, their coach was able to pick anyone on his team to take it, but he tapped the 18-year-old Eriksson, who made good on the chance.
Fredrik Karlstrom had a nice primary assist in an SHL game with Linkoping recently, which can be watched here. Ice time is still hard for Karlstrom to come by this season, as he sits 14th among regular Linkoping forwards in average TOI with 10:02 per game.